Mrs. Rochester's Ghost. Lindsay Marcott. 2021. [August] 398 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: In my mind, I can picture it clearly. Thorn Bluffs. December 17. Their fourth wedding anniversary.
Premise/plot: Mrs. Rochester's Ghost by Lindsay Marcott is a contemporary retelling of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. This retelling is set in California. Our heroine, Jane, is down on her luck. She's lost her job and her mother within a short span of time. And she's recently discovered her boyfriend and best friend were having an affair. A quick summer getaway (free) sounds like just what she needs. In exchange for tutoring, Jane can stay in a little guest cottage at a big estate--Evan Rochester's estate. Sophia, his daughter, is a mess--and understandably so. These two have the potential to help one another. But Jane discovers in the weeks following that all may not be as it appears. In particular, her employer, Evan Rochester, is still under investigation for the death and/or disappearance of his wife, Beatrice, a former super model.
Jane will have to decide ultimately who she trusts...
My thoughts: Mrs. Rochester's Ghost alternates between two narrators--Beatrice and Jane. (Occasionally we also get the point of view of Evan Rochester.) As I mentioned earlier, it is a retelling of Jane Eyre. Was it successful??? I'll do my best to share my thoughts.
Is it successful as a mystery? Maybe. Mostly. Though I can't help but think that if it was told solely from Jane's point of view it would have been a better mystery/thriller. I think by having dual narration, readers learn a bit too much before the other characters become aware...thus losing some suspense. Even so, there's plenty of elements that make this one a decent mystery with a few gothic elements thrown in.
Is it successful as a romance? NO. Not really. Here's the problem, readers probably won't like to see the main character, Jane, get gaslighted by Evan Rochester for hundreds of pages. It's hard to believe that readers will cheer on this coupling when Mr. Rochester is clearly all about gaslighting the women in his life! Seriously. I don't have a problem with Jane choosing to have a fling with him--against her better judgment and ours--I can't really say I want this relationship to last long term.
Are the relationships well developed? I will say the relationship between Jane and Evan was more lusty-lust than true love. HOWEVER. I will say this, I really did enjoy the developing relationship between Sophia and Jane. It was a gradual building up of trust. It may appear a bit rushed towards the end of the novel. But I will forgive the novel that because this relationship is really the novel's greatest strength. I wouldn't say the novel was character-driven, far from it, but it has at least a little bit of development.
Is it successful as a retelling? In places I feel it does capture the essence of the original. Not in the romance between Jane and Rochester. There are scenes that I felt were inspired directly by the original that come off decently. (For example, Jane being haunted--feeling haunted--and the strange things she almost sees and definitely hears as she stays on the estate.)
I didn't find Mrs. Rochester's Ghost as compelling and engaging as The Wife Upstairs. However, Mrs. Rochester's Ghost definitely has more likeable characters.
© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews